New forestry plan pits environmental concerns against Ontario's 'open for business model'

Environmentalists say a proposed forestry strategy for Ontario is stirring up a lot of public interest and opposition.

With only 0.5 per cent of forests being logged, Ford government plans to ramp up forestry activity in Ontario

Ontario is pushing forward a plan to ramp up forestry in the province. (Supplied by Torie Beram)

Environmentalists say a proposed forestry strategy for Ontario is stirring up a lot of public interest and opposition.
Public consultation closed this week on the Ford government's proposed forestry strategy.

The province says the forestry industry is harvesting less than half the amount of wood that is sustainable, and is now proposing a plan to log much more, stirring an outpouring of feedback across the board.
But Jamie Lim,  the CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association, said as a northerner, she is encouraged by the draft strategy, and that any criticism of the proposal is fear mongering.

"I really think it's unwarranted, and I think people have to understand that any increase in harvesting is obviously going to be done under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act," Lim said.

Lim says less than 0.5 per cent of Ontario's working forest is harvested, and that multiple stakeholders have called for an increase in the responsible harvest of the renewable resource.

She says that would lead to more jobs and prosperity for the region.

Rachel Plotkin, with the David Suzuki Foundation, said the group's fear is that more logging will lead to the elimination of habitat for endangered species.

She says more than 25,000 people submitted comments through the foundation– most of them Ontarians.
"I think it really reflects concern among the general public that the open for business model is closing doors for the potential for wildlife recovery and survival," Plotkin said. 

"We've seen a tremendous reaction from our supporters," she added. "Far more so than I've ever seen for any other consultation period. And I've been at the Foundation for fifteen years."

An email campaign by Ontario Nature cultivated more than 5,000 emails to the minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

A spokesperson for the province says it will review all comments to make sure it has a broad range of perspectives, while it completes consultation with Indigenous partners and municipalities.


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